The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has released an arbitration decision that confirms that the purchase of bus passes or tickets by a non-professional for the provision of housekeeping and home maintenance, as well as caregiving services and (arguably) attendant care, constitutes “economic loss” under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS).
On September 1, 2010, the accident benefits legislation was changed so that non-professionals (i.e., those who have not provided the services in the course of the employment, occupation or profession in which he or she would ordinarily have been engaged, but for the accident) could only be reimbursed for the services they provided if they had incurred an economic loss. The term “economic loss” was not defined within the regulations.
In the decision Asokumaran and TD Home (FSCO A12-007443) Arbitrator Susan Alves noted that it was submitted that the insured’s friend purchased bus tickets and/or passes to travel to the insured’s home. Both parties agreed to submit to a preliminary issue on whether or not these expenses would constitute an “economic loss”. The arbitrator did not address whether or not these expenses were incurred to provide the housekeeping and caregiver services and that issue will be decided at the main arbitration hearing.
What is clear from this decision is the rejection of a de minimis requirement (that is, that there is a possible minimum amount required for an economic loss argument to be established). The insurer in this case relied heavily on a previous arbitration decision, Simser and Aviva Canada, which was generally restrictive with respect to broader-use definitions of what constitutes an economic loss. Arbitrator Alves noted the following:
In Simser and Aviva Canada Inc., (FSCO A11-004610, January 16, 2013), the hearing arbitrator adopted the definition of economic loss from Black’s Law Dictionary and held that economic loss as applied in the Schedule must relate to some form of financial or monetary loss. This conclusion was not disturbed on appeal.
At the Simser hearing, the applicant had significant evidentiary difficulties in establishing the various losses claimed. For example, the hearing arbitrator described the evidence adduced at the hearing as vague and lacking in detail, lacking documentary evidence from the service provider’s employer, despite numerous requests from the insurer, and that there was a failure to link the expense or loss to the attendant care claimed. With respect to some of the out-of-pocket expenses, the arbitrator held that they were de minimis and therefore did not amount to economic loss.
I am not persuaded that the expenditure of $5,048 in this case is de minimis. The Court of Appeal in [Gore v.] Henry rejected any de minimis requirement for an expense to qualify as economic loss. On this point, on appeal, Delegate Blackman noted that the hearing arbitrator in Simser adopted the de minimis approach taken by the trial judge in Henry v. Gore Mutual. However, the arbitrator did not have the benefit of the Court of Appeal’s decision rejecting the de minimis approach at the time he issued his decision.
What is clear from these cases is that a loss of wages or a loss of income will qualify as an economic loss. I am not persuaded by the Insurer’s submission in this case, that the term economic loss should be read restrictively so that only those losses will qualify. Had the legislature intended to restrict economic loss to wage loss or loss of income, it could have so stated. Insurance coverage provisions are to be interpreted broadly, while coverage exclusions or restrictions are to be construed narrowly in favour of the insured. In my view, the Applicant has demonstrated that funds were expended by her friend and service provider in the amount of $5,048 to purchase bus tickets and/or passes in order for her to travel to the Applicant’s home. The purchases involved the expenditure of funds by the service provider, were a monetary loss to her and therefore qualify as an economic loss within the meaning of the Schedule.
The decision can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link below.
June 2, 2014
Balance needed between interests of drivers, insurers
While the future of a bill meant to address pressing concerns in the auto insurance system is unknown, the issues persist, and drivers are still in need of cost-saving solutions, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Peter Cho.
The Liberal government’s Bill 171, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, passed second reading in April, and proposed making several changes to the auto insurance dispute resolution system. The bill is now effectively dead as the legislature has dissolved for the June 12 election.
Cho, associate with Smitiuch Injury Law, said he’s glad to see Bill 171 go by the wayside, but as long as auto insurance rates remain an issue in Ontario, another version of the bill is likely to be presented in the near future.
Read the complete article at: Advocatedaily.com
Contact Peter Cho for further information.
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has just released the updated hourly rates for attendant care for all accidents after June 1, 2014. This applies to accident benefits claims.
Part 1 services (for routine personal care) will be $13.19 per hour. Part 2 services (for basic supervisory functions) will be $11.00 per hour. Part 3 services (complex health/care and hygiene functions) will be $19.35 per hour.
A copy of the guideline can be obtained by clicking below.
Why Ontario drivers pay the highest insurance premiums in Canada
Special to The Globe and Mail
The Fraser Institute’s landmark 2011 study on public-versus-private delivery of auto insurance in Canada concluded that Ontario’s private-sector insurance regimen enjoyed the questionable distinction of being the most expensive in the country – a conclusion even more damning because the report’s major takeaway was the overall superiority of the private system in other parts of Canada.
Read the complete article in the Globe and Mail.
Smitiuch Injury Law’s Principal, Michael Smitiuch, is quoted by Advocatedaily.com regarding the Government of Ontario’s plan to regulate the tow truck industry.
You can read the article by clicking here.
Get the facts and the truth about some common Traffic Law Myths. Did you know that a traffic ticket cannot simply be dropped even if there was a mistake made on the ticket?
Do you have a favourite lawyer joke? Is it in our list of PG rated jokes?
Although the annual number of impaired driving charges is down, it only takes one impaired driver to cause a traffic incident and destroy a family for life. Read about FAID and Smitiuch Injury Law’s support of the Freeze the Keys campaign.
These are just a few of the interesting articles in this issue.
The newsletter is available on our website or to request a hardcopy please call 1-866-621-1551 or email us at [email protected]
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has released a Pre-Arbitration Hearing Decision regarding Aviva Canada’s failure to have anyone from the insurer with authority available to resolve an accident benefits claim.
In the decision, Dabrowska and Aviva [FSCO A13-007793] a pre-arbitration discussion was held on February 27, 2014, and counsel for both parties reached an agreement on a “modest resolution” of the insured’s accident benefits claim. While Aviva had legal counsel and a representative present at the discussion, neither of them had authority to approve the settlement and no one with authority was available by either telephone or email.
Arbitrator John Wilson found Aviva in violation of Section 279(5) of the Insurance Act, which reads as follows:
If an insurer or an insured is represented in a mediation under section 280, an evaluation under section 280.1, an arbitration under section 282, an appeal under section 283 or a variation proceeding under section 284, the mediator, person performing the evaluation, arbitrator or Director, as the case may be, may adjourn the proceeding, with or without conditions, if the representative is not authorized to bind the party he or she represents.
The Arbitrator made the following comments:
“Authorized to bind” in the Act means that the representative never has to pick up the telephone to get instructions. Binding authority does not exist where the representative merely has authority to say “no” with no room to vary that position should further information be made available.
This pre-hearing was not a surprise to Aviva. It received the appropriate notices. Indeed, it sent an in-house counsel and an experienced representative, neither with any authority to do more than attend the pre-hearing.
The requirements of the Insurance Act should not have been a surprise to Aviva either. It has a legal department which appears frequently at FSCO arbitrations and pre-arbitrations, and should have been in a position to be aware of its responsibilities under section 279 of the Act and the related jurisprudence.3 Aviva is a sophisticated player and should have known better.
As a result Aviva was ordered to pay the time for the legal representative to prepare and attend the pre-hearing, as well as the actual travel expenses for the insured.
This decision can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
Smitiuch Injury Law to be Gold Sponsor at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre’s 21st Annual Conference on Neurobehavioural Rehabilitation in Acquired Brain Injury
Smitiuch Injury Law is pleased to be a Gold Sponsor for this important event. It will be held on May 8 and 9, 2014, at the Hamilton Convention Centre.
We encourage all ABI Rehabilitation Professionals, Psychologists, Physicians, Program Planners, Insurance and Advocates to attend.
You can obtain a copy of the brochure by clicking on the link below:
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has released a revised Minor Injury Guideline (MIG) as well as a revised Treatment and Assessment Plan (OCF-18). Both of these become effective February 1, 2014.
These revisions reflect the changes to be made to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) on February 1, 2014.
To access the FSCO Bulletin, as well as the documents, click here.
The Government of Ontario has announced upcoming changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), effective February 1, 2014.
These changes include:
- A requirement that, in order for an insured with a minor injury to be considered outside of the Minor Injury Guidelines, documentation will need to be provided of, “…a pre-existing medical condition that was documented by a health practitioner before the accident…”
- If a “non-professional” is providing attendant care, the amount payable by the insurer will be limited to the actual amount of the economic loss sustained.
- Disallowing an insured to re-elect to a new benefit (income replacement, non-earner or caregiver) regardless of any change in circumstances.
The amendment can be reviewed in its entirety by clicking here.